Tag Archives: addiction

PC Magazine on paper: RIP

PC: n. abbreviation for personal computer (in this instance)

Paper: n. a felted sheet of plant fibers laid down on a fine screen from a water suspension, often suitable for the display of printed words.

Ziff-Davis, publishers of PC Magazine, announced today that starting in January the “magazine” would appear only online – no longer in its paper version. End of an era.

Although I let my subscription lapse about a dozen years ago, PC Magazine was once my favorite read.
An addiction, actually.

For a liberal arts kinda gal, I always had a nerd side. Computer nerd. I bought my first computer for an unspeakable amount of money in 1980 and have never looked back.

It made writing a whole lot easier, but as time went on I got so intrigued by the technology that I got myself hired at a local custom-computer-building outfit in Berkeley, working for a couple of legitimate geeks – ordering parts, selling systems, doing tech support, training users.  Since I had zero background in electronics I had to educate myself in order to stay at least one step ahead of my customers.

That’s where PC Magazine came in.  It was my bible.  I read every issue from cover to cover. My husband grew jealous because I took it to bed with me and gave the magazine more attention than him. (Perhaps this explains our divorce??)

I kept the back issues and they began to crowd out the real literature on our book shelves.

In 1990 the magazine developed a huge online community on Compuserve, called PCMagNet, of which I was an enthusiastic member – even got my picture taken for a full page PCMAgNet ad (token female user) that appeared in several magazines.

When we moved to Washington State in 1992, I left the computer profession behind, but not my attachment to PC Magazine.  However, removed from the day-to-day business of computing, I began to see the magazine for what it really was: xornography (a p-word in disguise to throw off spammers) for geeks.  It was impossible to read the magazine without lusting for some faster, flashier, slicker piece of hardware or software.

My own gear invariably came up insufficient.

Without the benefit of being able to get new gear at cost any more, the magazine became torment, and finally I cancelled my subscription.

I still flip through the current issue when I see it on a newsstand, and I do check reviews at PCMag.com when I’m contemplating something new (or did when I had the $$ to do so), but I have recovered.

Here’s the cover of their final print edition. Oh, that logo is soooo familiar, so evocative. RIP, friend.


Paperholics Anonymous

Hi, My name is Joy and I am a Paperholic.

I’m grateful to be here with you today at Paperholics Anonymous. I don’t know where else I can turn.

My addiction began innocently enough. I was in college, writing an essay on feminist thought in early Ibsen. I had notes on index cards, notes on scrap paper, notes on the backs of envelopes and in the margins of books.

It was 6 a.m. and I’d been working on this !@#$% since noon the previous day. It was due in two hours and I COULD NOT FIND the scrap on which the perfect ending quote was scrawled.

I pawed pathetically through the papers till my desk looked like the bottom of a hamster’s cage. Minutes before my deadline the note surfaced and I typed my brilliant conclusion.

But ever since that day I’ve had a Paper Problem.

I LOVE paper. Books, magazines and newspapers, of course. But even better I like articles clipped from magazines and ripped from newspapers. I read the newspaper like I’m on an easter egg hunt. I scan to rule out all the drivel I don’t want to read, but when I find an interesting article, I tear it out and set it aside to read later.

The pile on which I place it grows ever taller, because every day there’s more to read. The pile must compete with a steady influx of the New Yorker and Newsweek magazines (both relentless weeklies – I get only one monthly, National Geographic.)

The New Yorker is especially challenging because I like to rip out the good cartoons to distribute to various acquaintances. Like here’s one for my son, the industrial designer:

And here’s one for a friend considering surgery:

The only good news is that I’ve managed to cut my junk mail and catalog intake to almost zero. (This demands dogged dialing to each company’s 800 number.)

Two spots compete to attract the most paper: the end of my kitchen counter, and the top of my desk. It’s an all or nothing proposition. If the space is clear, I can stay on the wagon… for awhile.

But then I have a little slip; maybe I get too busy to put things away before I rush off to the next thing. “I’ll just put it here for now…” I tell myself, as I set a piece of paper on the counter top.

I should know by now I can’t just save one piece of paper. Before I know what hit me I’m buried again.

How buried? Imagine an exhibit at the Natural History Museum, where you’ve got a cross-section of the earth’s layers…

The top-most layer is light and fluffy – mostly current newsprint, Toyota tuneup coupons and an occasional offer for a 2-for-1 dinner.  That’s about six inches deep.

The next 6” layer is more compressed – printouts of articles I read online, reports, manuals, magazines yet to be ripped into. Printer paper doesn’t fluff as nicely as ripped newsprint.

From time to time, I moisten the pile with a cup of spilled coffee or tea. Using both hands like salad tongs, I turn the pile as I seek some piece of wisdom I know is about halfway down. This serves to aerate the pile nicely. Over time, the lowest layers begin to heat up and decompose.

The bottom six inches is where my addiction begins to pay off. That’s where I’ve got dark brown crumbly compost, complete with happy earthworms. It grows great tomatoes.

You may ask, what have I tried to cure my addiction?

I had great hopes when it was rumored that the advent of computers would bring us the paperless office. This didn’t work for me: my computer just brought me in contact with MORE articles I wanted to print.

I tried taping my eyes shut so I could no longer read. I tried going cold turkey – installing a paper detection/rejection system at the door.

But then I found myself rifling through my neighbor’s recycle bins in the middle of the night seeking day-old paper.

So, now I’ve hit bottom and I’m here at Paperholics Anonymous. Can you help me?